In Memory of Darryl Kile

Cardinals RHP Kile found dead in Chicago hotel room
June 22, 2002

(c) Houston Astros
CHICAGO (REUTERS) -- St. Louis Cardinals righthander Darryl Kile was found dead in his hotel room Saturday. He was 33.

The cause of death is not known, although Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and general manager Walt Jocketty said Kile may have died in his sleep at the Westin Hotel.

An autopsy will be performed Sunday. Kile's father died at the age of 44 due to a blood clot in his brain.

According to Jocketty, the Cardinals realized Kile was not with the team around 1:15 p.m. EDT, some two hours before their game with the Chicago Cubs.

Jocketty said Kile's room was called several times before hotel security was informed. Security then used forced entry to gain access to the room, where Kile was found in his bed.

"He appeared like the same as if he had gone to sleep last night and never got up," said Joe Walsh, a member of St. Louis' security staff.

The team said there were no disruptions present and foul play was not being considered by Chicago police.

"Our club is just totally staggered, devastated," said La Russa, who was at a loss for words.

Saturday's matinee was postponed. Catcher Joe Girardi, the Cubs' player representative, broke the news to the Wrigley Field crowd some 25 minutes after the game was supposed to begin.

"We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinal family that the commissioner has canceled the game today. Thank you," Girardi said while fighting back tears. "I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinals family."

The Cubs were informed by umpire Mark Hirschbeck.

"I couldn't believe it and still don't believe it," said Cubs manager Don Baylor, who managed Kile in Colorado four years ago. "DK was a very special player."

It is unknown whether or not Sunday's game will be played.

"I think it will be tough to play for a while," Jocketty said.

A three-time All-Star who once threw a no-hitter, Kile was 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA during his 12th major league season and third with St. Louis. One of his best seasons came with the Cardinals in 2000, when he went 20-9 with a 3.91 ERA.

The right-hander with the hellacious curveball was scheduled to pitch Sunday.

The Garden Grove, California native leaves behind a wife, 5-year-old twins -- a boy and a girl -- and a 10-month-old son.

"My deepest sympathies go out to Darryl's family, his friends and the entire St. Louis Cardinals' ballclub," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. "All of baseball mourns his passing."

Kile's death comes four days after the passing of Hall of Fame Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck. To honor Buck, there was a moment of silence before Friday's game at Wrigley Field.

"It's obviously a sad and somber time for everyone in St. Louis, with the passing of Jack Buck and now this tragic thing that has happened to Darryl and his family," Jocketty said.

This is the second death of a major leaguer in four months. San Diego Padres outfielder Mike Darr was killed in a one-car crash just before spring training on February 15.

While Darr was a reserve, Kile was named to three All-Star teams, pitching two scoreless innings against the American League in 2000. He also was on the NL squad but did not pitch in 1993 and 1997.

The mid-season death of a star player is rare. Kile's passing is reminiscent of August 2, 1979, when New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson died in a plane crash.

More recently, Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews were killed in a boating accident during spring training in 1993.

In September 1978, California Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was shot to death.

First in the National League Central, the Cardinals were considered favorites to make it to the postseason, especially with Kile, who had logged at least 219 innings in six of the previous seven years.

With Kile, Matt Morris and Woody Williams leading the staff, St. Louis has won 24 of its last 35 games to take over first place from the Cincinnati Reds.

Often erratic, Kile spent his first seven seasons with Houston, throwing a no-hitter against the New York Mets on September 8, 1993. He went 15-8 that year while leading the league with 15 hit batsmen.

Kile led the league in walks in 1994 and in hit batsmen in 1995, but by the 1997 season he had blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball, going 19-7 with a career-best 2.57 ERA.

Kile parlayed the career season into a three-year, $24 million deal with the Colorado Rockies, but was a disappointment in the thin air of Coors Field, going 21-30 with a 5.84 ERA in two seasons. He had an NL-high 17 losses in 1998.

"The years I had him there, he never, ever complained about altitude," Baylor said. "He was always a perfect teammate to all the guys that played with him."

Baylor remembers Kile best for his presence on a team rather than his performance on the mound. Last year, Baylor watched as Kile helped Cards lefthander Rick Ankiel on his mechanics before a game against the Cubs.

"He pitched that night and shut us out," Baylor said. "He was just a very special person."

Acquired by St. Louis in a seven-player deal, Kile rejuvenated his career two years ago by winning a career-high 20 games and helping the Cardinals to the postseason.

Last year, Kile went 16-11 with a 3.09 ERA as St. Louis earned the NL wild card. He was 133-119 with a 4.12 ERA in 359 major league appearances for the Astros, Rockies and Cardinals, twice striking out at least 200 batters in a season.

"There was no bigger leader on our ballclub in every way," La Russa said. "We're staggered."

Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile found dead in Chicago hotel room

Rick Gano, Associated Press
June 22, 2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile was found dead at the team hotel Saturday, Chicago police said. He was 33.

Kile apparently died from natural causes and was found in his bed, said Michael Chasen, commanding officer of the police's Area Three Homicide. There were no signs of forced entry and no signs of foul play, he said.

"It appears he died in his bed, in his sleep,'' Chasen said.

Dr. Jim Loomis, the Cardinals' assistant team physician, said the 6-foot-5 Kile had no health problems and was not on medication.

The Cardinals' game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field was called off by commissioner Bud Selig.

"Our club is just totally staggered, I mean, devastated,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said, wiping away tears. "You guys know what a pro he is.''

The death was the second in the Cardinals' organization this week.

Kile pitched the Cardinals into first place in the NL Central on Tuesday night, the same night longtime broadcaster Jack Buck died at 77 after a long illness.

La Russa said the Cardinals and Cubs would play as scheduled Sunday night, a game Kile was supposed to start.

"My deepest sympathies go out to Darryl's family, his friends and the St. Louis Cardinals ballclub. All of baseball mourns his passing,'' Selig said in a statement.

Kile and his wife, Flynn, have 5-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and a son who was born last August.

Police said that at 12:15 p.m. CDT -- more than two hours before game-time -- several Cardinals realized Kile wasn't at the ballpark and called the hotel and asked to check on him.

The hotel security director and maintenance man went to Kile's room on the 11th floor and had to force their way in because of the safety latch on the door, Chasen said.

Several stunned players walked out of the Cardinals' clubhouse without comment soon after the game was called.

"I couldn't believe it and I still don't believe it,'' said Cubs manager Don Baylor, who managed Kile in Colorado. "DK was a very special player. He was always the perfect teammate to all the guys who played with him.''

Kile was 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 games this season.

Shortly after the game was supposed to start at 2:20 p.m., La Russa came out of the dugout and walked across the field to meet with Cubs general manager Andy MacPhail and Cubs player representative Joe Girardi. Then all the Cubs came out of the dugout and got behind Girardi.

Speaking in front of the dugout on a microphone, Girardi told the crowd there had been a "tragedy in the Cardinals' family'' and asked fans for their prayers.

La Russa, who'd earlier shaken hands with Baylor, walked back across the field.

The Cubs filed back into their dugout and down the steps into the clubhouse runway and then an official announcement was made in the press box that the game was off and will be made up later.

The teams will make up the game sometime in August.

Kile had won three of his last four starts, and had a solid work ethic.

"Once you take the ball, you've got a job to do,'' he said after his last start.

Kile, who was 16-11 with a 3.09 ERA and threw 227 1-3 innings last year, had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder during the off-season.

He pitched a no-hitter while with Houston in 1993 against the New York Mets. He was 133-119 in 11-plus major league seasons and known for an exceptional curveball.

Kile's best season was 2000, when he went 20-9 with a 3.91 ERA in his first year with St. Louis -- finishing fifth in NL Cy Young voting. He also helped St. Louis advance to the NL championship series against the Mets that season.

Kile was traded to St. Louis from Colorado, along with pitchers Dave Veres and Luther Hackman on Nov. 16, 1999, for pitchers Jose Jimenez, Manny Aybar and Rick Croushore and infielder Brent Butler.

A 30th-round pick of the Astros in 1987, Kile was called up to the majors in 1991 and went 7-11. He spent his first seven major league seasons with Houston, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young voting in 1997 after going 19-7 with a 2.57 ERA.

Kile signed with Colorado during the off-season and struggled in his two seasons with the Rockies. He led the league in losses with 17 in 1998 and was 21-30 with Colorado.

Montreal third baseman Fernando Tatis played with Kile on the Cardinals and fondly recalled his friend.

"In my mind, I can see Darryl Kile right next to me. We always joked together. I can't believe he's dead,'' Tatis said before the Expos played Cleveland at Olympic Stadium.

"I have to see it to believe it. We have to realize that he's dead, but in my mind, he's alive because he was one of the greatest,'' he said.

Associated Press writer Maura Kelly contributed to this story.